I spent close to eight years of my life worrying about things that were completely out of my control. I lost sleep. I lost weight. I gained weight. I ate well. I lived off of junk food. I did whatever it took to take the edge off of my worrying.
For eight years, my cellphone was never turned off, or silenced. If I had no other choice, I’d put it on “silent vibrate,” and hold it in my hands as though it were my lifeline. I knew, I just KNEW that as soon as I was “unreachable,” the phone call would come through confirming my worst fears.
For eight years, I reported my whereabouts as though I was checking in with the CIA, or the FBI. I needed to be reachable. I needed to be findable in case of an emergency.
For eight years, I held my breath every time my phone rang.
For eight years, I put my life on hold while I waited for the inevitable to happen.
Then, one day the first shoe fell. I survived.
A few years later, the second shoe fell, this one took a much greater tole on my emotional wellness.
Four months later, a third shoe fell, and although I mourned, and suffered.
Then, something miraculous happened: I took my real breath in eight years.
For the first time in eight years, I silenced my phone. I no longer stressed if my battery ran low. I no longer felt the need to report my footsteps in traceable communications. I undid my chains, and shackles. I breathed.
Please don’t get me wrong, my losses were huge, and I was not relieved by loved ones passing. I was however awakened to what I had forced myself to miss out on for eight long years.
For eight years, I believed that worrying proved that I cared. If I stopped worrying and took time to enjoy myself at an event, possibly missing an important call, I was selfish. If I stopped worrying, I no longer cared, and something awful might happen simply because I wasn’t playing around with worst case scenarios in my mind trying to outstep fate, and life.
Worrying was a passive aggressive form of power that made me feel as though I had control over situations that were so far out of reach, I couldn’t tame them even if I tried.
The truth is, I was powerless. I had no control. Worrying only brought me down, it didn’t actually help the people who needed me the most. It didn’t even help me because the more I worried, the more I lost myself. The more I lived in fear, rather than living in presence.
Worrying became an Olympic sport for me. Combined with my sidekicks of Guilt, and Anxiety, my mental state was a jungle gym of emotional acrobatics. My brain was able to go from status quo to worst case scenario situations in a nanosecond. Fight, or flight never had a chance to shift gears as I’d storm through issues, and possible solutions before the situation could even flourish out of its bud.
I became knowledgeable about myriad topics so that I could connect causes, effects, and solutions together like an expert puzzle master. I knew all of the questions to ask, and how to get things done quickly when necessary.
I am a natural “fixer,” and worrying allowed me to hone my skills to Master levels. I honestly thought I was in control.
I wasn’t in control of anything, especially not the time that slipped past me for eight years.
When that third shoe fell, a fog lifted from my brain. I realized that I never had any control. I realized that worrying made me feel as though I was doing something, but really I was treading water in quicksand.
I wanted control, but it wasn’t mine to be had. I couldn’t change the situations, and worrying only made me feel worse.
Eventually, when I had to face painful realities, I learned that worrying was passive and useless, rather than actively helping. In fact, by stressing, and worrying, I was weakening myself, which, had it continued even longer, would probably have hindered my abilities to help when the time came for me to take action.
Truth be told, planning out worst-case scenarios did help me prepare for many awful experiences, however, contrary to what my worrying told me, I wasn’t actually able to control anything that was happening. I was able to plan for my next-steps, but I wasn’t able to prevent horrible things from aspiring.
Today, I try to not worry about situations that I know I do not have control over. Instead, I use my abilities to plan, and foresee issues to be emotionally, and physically organized for when catastrophe strikes. I am trying to employ the more logical senses in my brain in order to help me breathe, and trust the people who really can help, even if they can’t control situations. I’m not always successful in my quests, but I’m making tremendous progress every single day!
All that aside, just because I’ve been able to focus less on worrying doesn’t mean that my anxiety doesn’t jump into play with my emotions!
One day at a time…